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Tetrapod Zoology

Tetrapod Zoology


Amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals - living and extinct
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    Darren Naish Darren Naish is a science writer, technical editor and palaeozoologist (affiliated with the University of Southampton, UK). He mostly works on Cretaceous dinosaurs and pterosaurs but has an avid interest in all things tetrapod. His publications can be downloaded at darrennaish.wordpress.com. He has been blogging at Tetrapod Zoology since 2006. Check out the Tet Zoo podcast at tetzoo.com! Follow on Twitter @TetZoo.
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  • Terror skinks, social skinks, crocodile skinks, monkey-tailed skinks… it’s about skinks (skinks part II)

    Criminally simplified depiction of lygosomine skink phylogeny (topology mostly based on Pyron et al. 2013). Photos (top to bottom) by Wolfgang Wuster, H. Zell, $Mathe94$, Benjamint444 (all CC BY-SA 3.0), Mark Stevens (CC BY 2.0), W.A. Djatmiko, S. Caut et al. (both CC BY-SA 3.0).

    October 2014 continues – for no particular reason at all – to be Lizard Month here at Tet Zoo and right now it’s time for more skinks. The previous article is a sort of general introduction to the group as well as a review of the limbless acontiines/acontids and weird feylinines. This time, we move [...]

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    Skinks skinks skinks (part I)

    A Tiliqua montage. At top: Blotched blue-tongue (T. nigrolutea) (photo by Benjamin444, CC BY-SA 3.0). Below: A Shingleback (T. rugosa) (photo by Jarrod, CC-BY-2.0).

    Skinks (properly Scincidae… though read on) are one of the most successful of squamate groups, accounting for approximately 1500 species – in other words, for about 25% of all lizards. Skinks occur on all continents (except Antarctica) as well as on numerous island groups. Extant species range from less than 10 cm in total length [...]

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    Racerunner lizards of the world unite

    Racerunners as geopolitical icons. Steppe-runners (E. arguta) on stamps produced by Kyrgyzstan and Moldova. Images in public domain.

    Today we’re here because of the lacertid lizards, the Old World clade that includes Eurasian wall lizards, green lizards, fringe-toed lizards and a great number of less familiar species groups that rarely get much attention outside of the specialist literature. Yes, as you might have realised if you’re a long-term and/or regular reader, this is [...]

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    Neat news from the TetZoo-sphere

    "Tapirs sometimes walk on the bottom of lakes and rivers". Oh really? Yes, really.

    Here are some amazing things that me and my friends have been talking about lately. They all concern fascinating discoveries or insights into unusual aspects of tetrapod behaviour. We’ll start with my current obsession: the short bit of underwater footage (16 seconds long) that shows an adult Lowland tapir Tapirus terrestris ‘walking’ (at great speed) [...]

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    2014, an amazing year for pterosaurs

    Life reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar by John Conway.

    I’m still not sure whether I blog about Mesozoic archosaurs – specifically dinosaurs and pterosaurs – too often, or too infrequently. As I always say, the problem as I see it is that dinosaurs and pterosaurs have so much presence in the blogosphere that writing about them always feels like jumping on a bandwagon. On [...]

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    Loxton and Prothero’s Abominable Science! Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids; the Tet Zoo review

    Abominable Science!, already well more than a year old...

    I’m an unashamed fan of cryptozoology – this being (for the two of you that don’t know) the field of study that revolves around those creatures thought to exist by some, but which remain unrecognised by mainstream science in general. These are the cryptids*: entities like Bigfoot, Yeti, the Loch Ness Monster, sea-serpents, and so [...]

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    Footless urbanite pigeons

    Poor footless urban pigeon, encountered close to Kew train station. Photo by Darren Naish.

    Foot deformities are ubiquitous in urban pigeons – why? As you’ll know if you’ve spent any time watching the pigeons of towns and cities, something like one in every ten (or more) has missing or partial toes, or swollen toes, or other pedal deformities of some sort. And then there are really extreme individuals – [...]

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    A brief history of muskrats

    Nice picture of muskrat eating. Photo by Linda Tanner, CC BY-SA 2.0.

    Earlier in the year I made a promise that I’d get through more rodents here at Tet Zoo. Rodents, you see, divide people like no other group of tetrapods. Some hate them, others love them, and while they’ve classically been regarded as bread-and-butter staples of discussions about tetrapod evolution and diversity, others bemoan their sameyness [...]

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    The changing life appearance of dinosaurs

    Jurassic dinosaurs as illustrated by Peter Zallinger: these are svelte, lightweight animals typical of the late 1970s and 80s. Hat-tip to LITC for the scan.

    Anyone who knows anything about Mesozoic dinosaurs will be – or certainly should be – familiar with the fact that our view of what these animals looked like in life has changed substantially within the last several decades. The ‘dinosaur renaissance’ of the late 1960s and 70s saw the flabby-bodied, tail-dragging behemoths of earlier decades [...]

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    Nuthatch Empire

    A nuthatch montage. Top left: Pygmy nuthatch (photo by Jimfbleak CC BY-SA-3.0). Top right: White-breated nuthatch (photo by Snowmanradio CC BY-SA-3.0). Bottom: Western rock nuthatch (photo by Devonpike CC BY-SA-3.0).

    Today I’d like to focus on passerine birds again, and this time on a group that I don’t think I’ve ever blogged about before: the certhioids. Scrap that. This article ended up being devoted entirely to just one lineage within Certhioidea: the nuthatches, or sittids (properly Sittidae). We start with the image above, taken in [...]

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